Tuesday, February 07, 2006
The Field of Dreams
I have told you of Ann. There were 11 others. This is of them and the tale of the weekend.
The picture does not look like much. To some it is a parking lot. For me it is a "range". Perhaps a fancy way to say "parking lot". Yet so full of meaning to me.
We come and make it "ours". Simple cones and banners stake our claim. For a while it will become a stage. Dramas are played out. Dreams are realized. Or not. It is a classroom. It is a laboratory. It is a place to test oneself. It is a place of growth. For students, for teachers. It is home. It is my kingdom for a weekend. There are many such places in our state. Yet each one feels the same. The real estate is different. Yet, the Wonder is the same. I arrive and drink in what it offers me. Motorcycling is so tied to life. Master two wheels. Grow in life to a new level. There is always a new level. Motorcycles move us down the road. They also take us new places in life.
My peers are my family. We are brothers and sisters. We are mothers and fathers. We are there for each as they need us. Some groups say this is so. Their reality is different. Those in my "family" live the words they say. All care deeply for others. We are passionate about what we do. We help others grow. We keep them safe. There is much satisfaction in this. It feels right. It feels like we are giving back to the universal Karma. It is a rare gift to be part of such a thing.
Many instructors are my children. I have been with them from their beginning. I nurture them in their growth. I teach and encourage them. Their progress delights me. Their enthusiasm fuels my own. I am working with one such now. Donn is a fairly new rider. He is older than me in years. His riding experience is still young. I was his teacher when he took the class. Donn shares with me a gift. He tells me I moved him to become an instructor. Watching how we treated the students. Seeing my joy in teaching. I am honored by what he shares. Donn is now more experienced in teaching students on the bikes. This is to be his first time in the classroom. It will be time of learning for Donn. It will be a time of learning for our class. Always a new level to reach for. I, too, am still growing. I am still learning. Motorcycling is a most excellent teacher.
We have two "Father-Son" sets. The sons are not boys. I smile to watch them. My own sons number 3. We have bonded through bikes. Serious things can be talked about over a bike. Men do not like to look at each other. It is easier to talk of heavy things while looking away. Many problems were chewed on over oil changes. The bike is the buffer. One of us on each side. Non-threatening. A common point of joy. The bike is a symbol. The good we share. It anchors us in rough seas. It is good to see the bonding. Older fathers still reaching out to sons. This is new for one set. It is an attempt to "get legal" for the other. All four have fun.
Two very young men. Full of vigor. Reflexes sharp. Their attitudes are refreshing. I pray they will find wisdom to go with their youth. There is a middle-aged man who has never ridden. His name is Jim. His friends ride. Their talk has inspired him. Jim wants to ride, also. He is here at their insistence. A good friend will share the desire. A great friend will nudge to training. Jim has great friends.
There are two men who have issues to deal with. Both have been riding. I marvel that they have survived. I will not share their names. It does not matter. One man is here because of his son. I taught the son last fall. The boy had just returned from Iraq. We get soldiers for training. I shake their hands. I thank them for what they do. They have my respect. The son did well. Now he wants his father to do it right. The father is abrupt. He will learn a painful lesson. Cause and effect on a bike. He does not respect the danger. We are practising quick stopping. A first try. A grab on the front brake. The bike goes down. There is no real harm. A lesson better learned here than on the street. The other man never does settle down. He passes the course. Barely. I send him away with a stern warning. His habit is always to be rough. It will hurt him. I do not wish to offend him. I am also the last professional he will probably see. It is my duty to be honest while kind. It will now be on his head. I have done my duty to him.
And so it goes for these people. It is only a parking lot. It is also so much more.
I am straying from commuting. This is supposed to be about that. Friday night and Saturday brought wind and rain. Fierce wind. Driving rain. I leave home at 6 AM. My ride is 30 miles. It is a nice change to go North. Work lies to the South. Wind and rain have become the norm. The ride is uneventful. The wind is bad. I consider delaying class. I wonder if I should cancel. It is not safe for my students. Donn brings his car. He sees my bike. He feels bad he did not ride. He has reasoned that nobody will ride. The weather is too bad. I think nothing of it. I ride. It is what I do. My dear friend Al has arrived. He bears hot chocolate and cookies. Al is not teaching. This man has a grand heart. He has gotten up early. Al's only thought is his friends. He lives close and came to us. Al helps us set up. It is time to start. The wind has died. The rain continues. Rain is part of riding. We finish the day as planned.
I feel bad about Sunday. Not about riding. About what I feel Saturday has done to Donn. Read and you will understand. I leave at 6 again on Sunday. The temperature is 40. The skies have cleared. We are supposed to see sunshine today. It will be glorious. South of Salem there are large hills. I am in the fast lane. Freeway speed. I see an ambulance ahead. It is in the opposite lanes. It is parked at an angle across the road. There are two cars together. A man is setting flares. I am engrossed. Trying to decipher the event. It is stil dark. It feels like my ST has a flat front tire. I am two hearbeats away from a tankslapper. It hits me like a snowball. I am on black ice. The road looks no different. Only wet. I save the bike. Realize there are 4 more miles of this hill to go. We have only started climbing. I crest the first small hill. Vehicles are off the road everywhere. Emergency vehicles. Flashing lights make intersting patterns on the ice. It is insane to continue. I press on. I think of Gary. Braving ice on The Baron. The ST and I are 900 pounds. I wish he were on my bike. Giving me traction. Using his boots to help hold us up. I have jested that if "Gary can do it on a scooter, I will do it on the ST". It is not jest now. We survive.
Class is delayed. There is too much ice for the students to ride. We go to classroom first. Donn does well. The students respond well to him. I am proud of him. We get out the bikes. The sun comes out. The weekend ends well.
Donn has had to deal with ice in the same spot. He does not say it. But I feel he rode because I did. His bike had a small spill. There are things not meant to be seen. A bike on its side. His leaned on a guard rail. I am hardcore. I do not expect others to follow. It is said to ride your own ride. Yet some try to follow. Do I bear guilt? Realizing that some look up to me, do I back off? If they ride with me I do. Is it different if I am not actually with them? I do not know the answer.
We get ready to leave. I see Donn's eyes. He asks to follow me. He is shaken. I see it but dare not voice it. It will embarrass him. He seeks comfort in my presence. We ride the same road with no incident. I hope his courage is restored.
This has gone long. I am sorry. It seems so simple. Just two days. Summed up by "I rode to class. I rode home". It is not that simple. A fact I am glad of. Life is so rich. A bike can open the treasure chest. I am lucky to be able to ride.